Inspect with a Purpose

As spring arrives, I become more and more excited to begin hive inspections. As much as I enjoy inspections, I want to make sure I am not opening a hive just to say “hello” to my sweet ladies. Before I inspect a hive, I make sure I have a purpose for the inspection.

Beekeeper Roda

For example:
•Is the colony showing signs of swarming?
•Does the colony have enough honey and pollen stores?
•Is there a queen present?
•Is it time for their monthly mite check?

Note: My goal is to have each hive open no longer than 10-15 minutes. As long as I see eggs, I know the queen has been present over the past few days.

Queen Thelma

Keeping detailed notes during each hive inspection, allows me to have a plan of action for future inspections. If I am just checking for pollen and honey stores, there is no reason to disrupt the entire brood nest. On the other hand, if I am checking on the status of my queen, once I find a frame filled with eggs, I am set.

Capped honey (white) & capped brood (yellow)

Before I begin my inspections, I check my previous notes and make sure I have a purpose for opening the hive. Through consistent observation and detailed record keeping, many colony issues can be avoided.

Think ahead and expect the unexpected! ~Roda

For more about Indigo Acres Apiary, visit our About Us page!

Let’s Talk Pollen!

Pollen is a protein food source for the bees. This powdery substance is collected from flowers, by the forager bees, and brought back to the hive and stored in cells. Pollen is then used to make bee bread, (a mixture of honey and pollen) as well as royal jelly. Pollen is also the main source of amino acids in the honey bee diet. Bees collect a variety of pollen types to be healthy, just as we humans consume a variety of foods.

Pollen color varies, from plant to plant. For example, these are some of the pollen sources/colors that bloom in our gardens and meadows:

  • Marigold: Orange
  • Aster: Reddish Yellow
  • Sunflower: Golden Orange
  • Goldenrod: Golden Yellow
  • Raspberry:Light Grey

Throughout the season, the ladies store a serious amount of pollen for the winter. This makes my heart so happy. As a beekeeper, I feel it is my job to provide pollinator friendly flowers, shrubs and trees for my sweet bees. When people ask me how many colonies I would ultimately like to have, my answer is, “As many as our 13 acres can support.” Would I love 100 colonies? Yes! But, I feel it is important to have balance.

When I committed to becoming a beekeeper, I committed to providing for not only my honey bees, but for my local pollinators. Expanding Indigo Acres Apiary also means expanding our pollinator gardens/meadows. I would love to be able to count on the forage that is within 2 miles of our home, but I just can’t. By providing chemical free forage, I know our ladies are healthy and safe. Maybe I am an overprotective bee mama, but I like to encourage my sweet bees to remain close to home.

As you are planning for your spring garden, keep in mind that planting a variety of pollinator friendly plants is most beneficial. Although sunflowers are a wonderful choice, adding sunflowers, borage, and hyssop provide not only pollen variety, but blooms that will support your local pollinators throughout the seasons.

Our motto here at Indigo Acres Apiary is simple: “Plant a Flower, Save a Bee!”

Let’s Bee Inspired! Roda

For more information about Indigo Acres Apiary, visit our About Us Page!

Planting a Larval Host Garden

As much as I love to talk about my sweet bees, today I want to share how you can help your local butterflies by planting a larval host garden.

When people share with me what they are planting for their local pollinators, one of the first plants listed is the butterfly bush (buddleia davidii). Although this plant is beautiful and a wonderful nectar source, it is considered invasive in many areas.

If you choose to plant a butterfly bush in your garden, I highly recommend planting it in a container. You can also purchase a sterile cultivator. These plants produce a minimal amount of seeds compared to the non-sterile varieties.

More importantly, the butterfly bush is NOT a larval host plant. Insects require a host plant for reproduction. The butterfly offspring needs to be able to feed on the leaves of native species for survival.

Host Plant Recommendations:

Here are just a few wonderful host plants that you can add to your gardens for the butterflies:

  • Herbs: hyssop, dill, mint
  • Perennials: aster, hollyhock, milkweed, purple coneflower, wild indigo, joe-pye weed, sedum & black-eyed susan
  • Cover Crops: alfalfa, clover, mustard
  • Grasses: bluegrass, bluestem, sedge, & switch grass
  • Trees: black cherry, oak, poplar, tulip tree, pawpaw & willow
  • Vines: honeysuckle, hops, moon flower & Passion flower
  • Shrubs: false indigo, spicebush, viburnum, lilac

Note: If you are looking to bring monarchs to your backyard gardens, plant a variety of milkweeds. Milkweed is the ONLY host plant for the monarch butterfly.

💚 Note: I purchase my milkweed seeds from Botanical Interests

Spring is just around the corner!

It is never too early to start planning for this year’s gardening season.

If you have a passion for butterflies, check out our Monarch note card set in our online shop!

Monarch note card set

Autumn Gifts

Bee on flower 5

Here in West Michigan, our leaves are changing and there is definitely a chill in the air. Hello, October! I feel like it was just yesterday that I was saying “hello” to our sweet honey bees, after a long and challenging winter. Time sure flies when you are doing what you love!

Here are a few highlights from our 2019 beekeeping season…

  • Autumn honey bee note card set
  • Hydrangea note card set
  • Monarch note card set
  • Garden Friends Note Card Set
  • Garden whimsy note card set
  • Beekeeper note card set
  • Bees & Blooms Note Card Set

A sneak peek at what’s in store for 2020…

  • Summer Bee Camp for kids! Watch our Bee Camp 2020 Page for more information coming soon!
  • Expansion: We are adding 7-10 new honey bee colonies to our woodland meadow, spring 2020.
  • We will continue to expand our current pollinator gardens/meadows for not only our sweet bees, but for our local pollinators!

THANK YOU to everyone that supported Indigo Acres Apiary this season!

We can’t wait to share our passion with you in 2020!

Plant a Flower, Save a Bee

Warmly, Roda

Honey: Order Your Hive Share Today!

bees and honey

Hive Share orders are officially open! There are many benefits to purchasing a share, of one of our beehives:

  • You will not have to worry about running out of honey before next year’s harvest. You will have honey for the entire year!
  • You will receive a discounted rate.
  • Order early, and you will have the opportunity to meet our bees and learn where your honey comes from, during a complimentary Hive Tour!

Visit our “Honey” page for more details!

Hard at Work!

Artistic Hives

One of the unique elements, at Indigo Acres Apiary, is our brightly painted beehives! There is nothing like a field of wildflowers or a manicured pollinator garden, filled with artistic beehives, to spread the joy of nature…

Clover Meadow Hives
Pollinator Garden Hives
Evergreen Grove Hives
Painting Honey Supers!
If you can’t find Roda, with the bees or in the gardens, she is probably painting.
Thematic Hives…these two seem a bit “Wicked”

Are you looking for an exciting West Michigan adventure, this summer? Visit Indigo Acres Apiary and sign up for one of our Hive Tours or Beekeeping Sessions. We can’t wait to share our amazing honeybees with you!

Save the Bees!

Spring Has Sprung!

Here in Michigan, Spring has sprung! We are excited to report that we have been able to complete our first comprehensive inspections, on all of our hives! We overwintered 100% of our hives and our mite tests were clear. This is a fabulous way to kick off the beekeeping season! As you can see, I am feeling a bit excited!

Look at her pollen pants!

With temperatures in the 50s, the ladies have been able to do some early foraging. Red and silver maple trees are a wonderful source of pollen for the bees, as long as the Spring temperatures are warm enough for the ladies to leave the hive. I am happy to share that they have been wearing their pollen pants, filled with beautiful yellow maple pollen!

Temperatures are going to drop, over the next few days, with some snow and freezing rain coming our way. Welcome to West Michigan! As we anxiously await warm weather, we are continuing to prepare for our expansion of 12 new hives. Our poly tunnels are bursting with blooms and our 2500+ seedlings are growing stronger each day. We are ready to kick off this beekeeping season, in full force. Come on Mother Nature…help us out just a bit!

Have a magical day!


Roda checking on the hives!

Hello and welcome to the new site of Indigo Acres Apiary, located in Rockford, Michigan! My name is Roda, and I am the owner of Indigo Acres Apiary, LLC. I am so excited to kick off our 2019 beekeeping season and share our adventures.

As many of you know, it has been a long and cold winter, here in West Michigan. Due to much diligence and lots of TLC, I am happy to say that we have a 100% survival rate, on all of our hives. Woohoo!

I am patiently waiting for our first 50 degree day, with lots of sunshine and no wind. Once this magical day presents itself, our Indigo Acres team will complete the first hive inspections of the season. I can hardly wait! I am also hoping to split a few of our current overachieving colonies… more bees!

While I patiently wait for the outside temperatures to improve, I have been finishing up preparations for 12 new colonies. I chose a rainbow of vibrant colors, for the new hives, based on their assigned pollinator garden theme. Watch for more updates to come…

Indigo Acres Apiary is so excited to share our passion for beekeeping, with our community and beyond. We invite you to take some time to get to know us, through our new site. You can also find us on Instagram, Facebook and Pinterest. You can find our social media links at the bottom of our Home page. You won’t want to miss the exciting opportunities we have planned for the 2019 beekeeping season. Check out our Education page for more details…

Wondering how you can help your local pollinators?

Remember our motto…

Plant a Flower, Save a Bee

Watch for more exciting updates to come, here at Indigo Acres Apiary!